A BILL that seeks to expand the coverage of terrorist acts has been sent to the presidential palace for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said on Tuesday.
A copy of the enrolled bill, which critics said arms the government to violate human rights, had reached the office of Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, he said in a mobile phone message.
“We have a 30-day period to review, either to veto or to sign the bill,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque said at a news briefing. The bill will be automatically become a law if the President chooses not to act on it.
The measure allows an Anti-Terror Council (ATC) made up of Cabinet officials to do functions otherwise reserved for courts, such as ordering the arrest of suspected terrorists. It also allows the state to keep a suspect in jail without an arrest warrant for 14 days from three days now.
It also considers attacks that cause death or serious injury, extensive damage to property and manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport and supply of weapons or explosives as terrorist acts.
The Senate passed the bill, which will repeal the Human Security Act as early as February. Mr. Duterte certified the bill as urgent last week.
Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman earlier sought a clarification on how the House of Representatives voted on the measure last week after some of his colleagues changed their mind.
Several lawmakers changed their votes after the bill was approved on third and final reading on Wednesday.
Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda withdrew his support for the measure and registered an abstention instead.
Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Lorna Regina B. Legarda also denied having co-authored the bill that critics said would allow the state to violate human rights.
Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon withdrew his principal authorship of the bill, saying “there are inputs of House members that could refine and polish it to be more acceptable.”
Mr. Duterte has 30 days to either sign or veto the measure. Otherwise, the bill will lapse into law. — Charmaine A. Tadalan